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IRB suspends funding for Fijian rugby

IRB suspends funding for Fijian rugby
January 12, 2014

The International Rugby Board (IRB) has announced that it has suspended all direct financial support to the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) because of concerns over the administration and governance issues.

In a statement released on Saturday (11th January), the IRB advised that the suspension will hold "until the Union adopts key financial reporting, administration and governance reforms."

The statement also advised that the recommendation to suspend funding "arose from an IRB Major Union Review which was conducted after the Union requested emergency financial assistance in May last year."

The IRB said it had committed $2.05 million "in direct funding to the FRU in 2013 and significant additional financial assistance to participate in international tournaments in 2013."

The IRB is concerned at Government and military intfluence in the FRU and has repeatedly asked for evidence that the FRU is getting itself into order, but has not received that assurance.

Fijian ruler Voreqe Bainimarama is widely believed to have interfered with the running of the RFU and has put his daughter, Litiana Loabuka, in the role of Chief Executive of the Fiji Sports Commission, which controls Fijian Government funding to the FRU.

In addition, the FRU has failed to pay the salary of high-profile Sevens coach Ben Ryan, forcing him to work voluntarily for three months.

The Scotsman was appointed in September, with an expectation that he would improve Fiji's inconsistent results ahead of rugby sevens' Olympic debut in 2016.

However, Ryan said "not a penny" of his salary had been paid and he was living off his savings, including covering the cost of flights home to see his family over Christmas.

The suspension of funding has not been reported in Fiji's heavily censored media.


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